Your followers are everything.
Maintaining a brand’s social media account is an ever-evolving challenge. Attraction is the name of the game, and the follow button is the goalpost. There’s so many sports analogies that can be used to illustrate the difficulties found in this sector of the industry.
But it’s more than that.
It’s more than metaphors.
back to basics.
When a user follows a brand on social media, they initiate a relationship that is based on the symbiotic exchange of information. The relationship follows the same social norms that we have in daily face-to-face interactions. One of these norms is that when an individual’s needs are no longer being met, they have the right to leave that relationship at any time.
Or, more simply put: they unfollow.
The key to retaining followers is to interact with the group in terms of the individual. If you can establish and maintain a healthy balance of give-and-take with an individual user, that same balance transitions with the whole.
Returning to metaphors, there are several concepts to visualize while working towards that healthy balance.
If a user initiates engagement by sending a direct message, put priority on responding to them. By answering questions, addressing concerns, and resolving complaints, you validate the user’s worth to the brand. The trust you curate with users through answering their call is invaluable.
Responding to individual messages has the added benefit of being a face and a voice that the user can align the brand with. If they call ‘Marco’ and hear ‘Polo’, loud and clear from someone they’re familiar with, they’ll continue to follow your voice in the pool of social media.
Develop a social persona that embodies the brand best and be consistent in that persona when posting content and engaging with followers.
A recent Sprout study on why brands are unfollowed examines the aspect of inauthenticity, pointing to the use of jargon and slang by a brand in order to shoehorn their way into the Millennial market. It’s an aggressive solicitation for attention that disregards the autonomy of a user by making assumptions as to their lifestyle and posing as what they deem a representation of such.
Keep it real, bae.
The Dinner Table
The rules of engagement for social media are the same as for the proverbial dinner table. No politics, no religion, and no hot button issues; furthermore, avoid heavy product promotion (like Aunt Kathy, who really wants to talk to you about some Tupperware). A good conversation at the diner table typically consists of shared interests and equal dialogue.
Make the focus on keeping content relevant, interesting and educational. In return, your followers feel empowered, informed and respected- because they are.
Your followers on social media are not just prospects, consumers, or target demographics; they are neighbors, colleagues, and peers. So approach them as such. When you do away with the demographics, the segmentation, and buyer personas you are left with human beings who share most of the same innate needs and desires.
Go deep with them.
The concepts above are far from gimmicks, they’re behaviors that foster lasting relationships. And you can create those relationships as a brand on social media and reap the rewards. Commit to your followers. Flourish in that commitment. Grow with them, respect them, and know them.
When you interact with users in this manner, you acknowledge their humanity in a digital landscape. And because of this, they are likely to follow you through the shifting sands of social media.
See how deep you can go.